Minister of basic education Angie Motshekga. Picture: THE SUNDAY TIMES/THAPELO MOREBUDI
Minister of basic education Angie Motshekga. Picture: THE SUNDAY TIMES/THAPELO MOREBUDI

In a surprise move, the basic education department announced on Wednesday night that matric students who test positive for the coronavirus will be allowed to write their exams.

It previously said students who had Covid-19 would not be allowed to enter examination centres, and would have to wait until the middle of 2021 to write their exams.

In a short statement, the department said it had considered requests from parents and pupils to review its protocols and had agreed with the department of health that candidates who tested positive but were deemed fit to write the final matric examinations would be allowed to do so at different venues.

Students with a temperature above 38°C when they underwent screening at examination centres would be allowed to write in an isolation venue at school, said the department.

“The departments will work jointly to ensure that candidates who have been confirmed as positive are given an opportunity to sit for the exams while ensuring that safety is observed,” the department of basic education said.

“The department is committed to ensuring that our … learners are provided with the most conducive environment for the writing of this important examination.” 

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga cautioned against complacency, saying safety measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 still needed to be observed.

More than a million candidates are expected to write their matric exams in November, the largest cohort ever to do so at the same time, after the June exams were postponed when SA went into a lockdown on March 27. The large number, combined with Covid-19 protocols, has presented a huge logistical challenge, and already compelled provincial education departments to set up extra examination centres and hire additional invigilators and markers.

Correction: November 5 2020

In an earlier version of this story we said the basic education department had made the announcement on Tuesday night, it was Wednesday night.

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